Date: Sunday, June 13, 1971 - 3:09pm - 3:22pm
Participants: Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger
Location: White House Telephone
White House Operator: Mr. President, I have Dr. Kissinger calling you.
White House Operator: Thank you.
Kissinger: Mr. President?
Nixon: Hi, Henry, how are things in California?
Kissinger: Well, I just got here, and I’m going to leave very early in the morning, so I’ll be back in the early afternoon.
Nixon: Oh, I see. I see.
NARA Excision Category: Personal Returnable Duration: 57s
Nixon: OK, fine.
Kissinger: The ... I understand you’ve talked to.
Nixon: Yeah, Haig was, I talked to him about the.
Kissinger: To Haig already, and I just wanted to.
Nixon: Yeah, yeah.
Kissinger: To check in. Actually, things are fairly quiet. We’ve got the casualties now.
Kissinger: And unfortunately, they’re higher than what I told you yesterday. They’re about 23.
Kissinger: But still, that’s a low figure.
Kissinger: That’s just four above what we had.
Kissinger: They must have picked up some missing in action. The trouble with the daily casualties is that they don’t reflect the ones that died that were wounded the previous week.
Nixon: Yep, yep. Well, on the other hand, my God, Henry, to 19, 23, good heavens.
Kissinger: Oh, yeah.
Nixon: It’s just down to nothing.
Kissinger: That’s right.
Nixon: I mean it’s.
Kissinger: And the more I’ve thought about Le Duc Tho coming west.
Kissinger: I’m not saying they’re going to accept it, but if they were just going to kick us in the teeth, they wouldn’t leave him there.
Nixon: No. No.
Kissinger: So they’re at least going to explore.
Nixon: Yeah. Well, I—particularly if our Chinese friends lean on him a little, he will.
Kissinger: That’s right, and he’s stopping in.
Nixon: And they just might lean on him a little. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kissinger: Well, we’ll get the answer in a week or so.
Nixon: Well, that’s—Haig was very disturbed by that New York Times thing. I thought that.
Kissinger: Well, Mr. President, I think.
Nixon: Unconscionable damn thing for them to do. Kissinger: It is unconscionable [unclear].
Nixon: Of course, it’s, it’s, it’s unconscionable on the part of the people that leaked it. Fortunately, it didn’t come out in our administration.
Nixon: That appar—according to Haig, it all relates to the two previous administrations.
Nixon: Is that correct?
Kissinger: That is right.
Nixon: But I hope the—but I—my point is it—are any of the people there who participated in this thing, who—in leaking it? That’s my point. Do we know?
Kissinger: In public opinion, it actually, if anything, will help us a little bit, because this is a gold mine of showing how the previous administration got us in there.
Nixon: I didn’t read the thing. Tell—give me your view on that in a word.
Kissinger: Oh, well, it just shows massive mismanagement of how we got there. And it pins it all on Kennedy and Johnson.
Nixon: [laughing] Huh. Yeah!
Kissinger: And McNamara. So from that point of view, it helps us. From the point of view of the relations with Hanoi, it hurts a little, because it just shows a further weakening of resolve.
Kissinger: And a further big issue. [Pause.]
Nixon: I suppose the Times ran it to try to—try to affect the debate this week or something.
Kissinger: Oh, yes. No question about it. Nixon: Well, it—I don’t think it’s going to have that kind of effect.
Kissinger: No. No. Because it’s—in a way, it shows ... what they’ve tried to do—I think they outsmarted themselves, because they had put themselves—they had sort of tried to make it “Nixon’s War,” and what this massively proves is that, if it’s anybody’s war, it’s Kennedy’s and Johnson’s.
Kissinger: So that these Democrats now bleating about where it went wrong.
Kissinger: —or what we’re doing wrong, this graphically shows that—that who—who is responsible for the basic mess.
Kissinger: So I don’t think it’s having the effect that they intend.
Nixon: Well, you know ... it’s—it may not have the effect they intend. They—the thing, though, that Henry, that to me is just unconscionable, this is treasonable action on the part of the bastards that put it out.
Kissinger: Exactly, Mr. President.
Nixon: Doesn’t it involve secure information, a lot of other things? What kind of—what kind of people would do such things?
Kissinger: It has the most—it has the highest classifications, Mr. President.
Nixon: Yeah. Yeah.
Kissinger: It’s treasonable. There’s no question it’s actionable. I’m absolutely certain that this violates all sorts of security laws.
Nixon: What—what do we do about it? Don’t we ask for an.
Kissinger: I think I—I should talk to Mitchell.
NARA Excision Category: Privacy Duration: 33s
Nixon: No, I think you should. You tell Mitchell that.
Kissinger: And this is not—an occasional leak is bad enough.
Nixon: Yeah. Yeah.
Kissinger: But this is everything the Defense Department possessed.
Nixon: Yeah. Let me ask this: Call Mitchell. I think you should talk to Mitchell and ask him about his just calling this—getting this fellow in on the purpose of ... this was a security leak, and we want to know what does he have, did he do it.
Nixon: And put him under oath.
Kissinger: That’s right. I think we ought to do that. I think we ought to wait until after.
Nixon: Another thing to do would be to have a congressional committee call him in.
Kissinger: I think we ought to do it after Wednesday, Mr. President.
Nixon: A congressional committee could call him in, put him under oath, you know, and then he’s guilty of perjury if he lies.
Kissinger: But I think we ought to wait until after the vote before they get it all confused.
Nixon: Oh, I agree. Well, you couldn’t do it before then anyway, but, you know that—to get it all set up.
Kissinger: [Unclear] begin the investigation.
Nixon: Because you’ve got to have the questions and the investigations and know what it is. Well, we’re not going to get disturbed. These things happen, you know. Clifford pops off and this guy pops off. I would think it would infuriate Johnson, wouldn’t you?
Kissinger: Oh, God. Basically, it doesn’t hurt us domestically. I think—I’m no expert on that—but no one reading this can then say that this President got us into trouble. I mean, this is an indictment of the previous administration. It hurts us with Hanoi because it just shows how far our demoralization has gone.
Nixon: Good God.
Kissinger: But basically, I think the decision they have to make is, do they want to settle with you? They know damn well that you’re the one who’s held firm and no matter how much anyone else is demoralized, doesn’t make any difference.
Nixon: Yeah. Right. Right. Well, you’ll find things out there pleasant enough.
NARA Excision Category: Personal Returnable Duration: 7s
Editor’s note: While the National Archives log for this tape indicates a deletion of 7 seconds, the audio file indicates a deletion of 1 minute, 7 seconds.
Nixon: Well, that’s a long trip for you, but I wouldn’t—that’s—and I—Don’t worry about this Times thing. I just think we’ve got to expect that kind of crap, and we just plow ahead, plow ahead. [Unclear.]
Kissinger: Well, Mr. President, if we succeed in two out of three, as you said.
Kissinger: —this summer.
Nixon: Yeah. Yeah.
Kissinger: Well, this will look like pygmies.
Nixon: If we can—[chuckles]. But, boy, you’re right about one thing. If anything was needed to underline what we talked about Friday—or Saturday morning, about ... about really ... really cleaning house when we have the opportunity, by God, this underlines it.
Kissinger: Oh, yes.
Nixon: And people have got to be put to the torch for this sort of thing. This is terrible.
Kissinger: [Actor Freeman] Gosden was on that plane with me and he.
Nixon: Yeah, he’s a great fellow.
Kissinger: Oh, he worships you.
Nixon: What did he think about all of this stuff?
Kissinger: He said it’s just what you have to put up with. He said he could never imagine it. And he said, well, Dulles—he blames the State Department, which is wrong in this case, because they had nothing to do with this one.
Nixon: No. I know. Kissinger: But he said Dulles always used to say that he had to operate alone because he couldn’t trust his own bureaucracy.
Nixon: [laughing] Yeah, I know.
Kissinger: I said, well, that was good for Dulles, but we pay for it now, because we’re stuck with the bureaucracy.
Nixon: That’s right. That’s right. Well, I just wish that we operated without the bureaucracy.
Kissinger: [laughing] Well, Mr. President.
Nixon: We do.
Kissinger: [Laughs.] All the good things that are being done.
Kissinger: —are done without.
Nixon: We do. We do. We do. Well, anyway, I’ll tell you what: On the Mitchell thing, I’d just have them—have him examine what the options are.
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Nixon: And the Times will justify it on the basis that it serves the national interest. Is that right?
Kissinger: Of course.
Nixon: My God! My God! You know, can you imagine the New York Times doing a thing like this ten years ago? Even ten years ago?
Kissinger: Mr. President—and then when McCarthy accused them of treason, they were screaming bloody murder. This is treason!
Nixon: That’s right. No, whatever they may think of the policy, it is treasonable to take this stuff out and—
Kissinger: That’s right. Oh, it’s one thing to.
Nixon: It serves the enemy.
Kissinger: Another thing to print ten pages of top secret documents that are only about two or three years old. Well, they have nothing from our administration, so actually, I’ve read this stuff. We come out pretty well in it.
Nixon: [Chuckles.] Well, somebody over there has got the stuff that we've got, although we—I asked Haig about that, and he said, well, look, our file as far as the White House is concerned, we’re pretty damn secure. On the other hand, of course, naturally whenever I’ve had to call Rogers and Mel [Laird] in on some of these, on Laos and Cambodia, you can be sure all that’s in some file.
Kissinger: But Mr. President, all the big things you've done in the White House. And those files will leave with you.
Nixon: Yeah. That’s right.
Kissinger: And go to the Nixon Library.
Nixon: But what I meant, though, that’s true of the files, but I mean, these guys of course will have made in their own records—they’ll indicate what I’ve ordered, you know.
Kissinger: Oh, they indicate what you ordered, but they weren’t in on the reasoning.
Nixon: Yeah. Well, let’s not worry about that.
NARA Excision Category: Personal Returnable Duration: 1m 13s